Today’s show is a bonus episode, and an extra-special one, because I sat down with my friend, the futurist and financial technology guru Brett King.
This is our second show with Brett -- we also had one we recorded over a delightful breakfast in London a while back. We wanted to talk again because he’s put out his new book, Bank 4.0, for which I co-wrote the chapter on financial regulation. We made that chapter 2 of the book, right after the opening, because regulation has become absolutely central to the question of whether technology is going to make banking better, or worse, than what we have today.
This time, Brett and I sat down on a wet afternoon in New York. Limited only by the time we had, we talked about pretty much everything.
Brett has done deep research on technology, reaching far beyond the financial field to understand the big forces of change and where they will take us. He’s a fintech founder himself, having launched Moven a few years back. And he also travels the world -- he’s in huge global demand as a speech-maker (by the way, we also share a speakers’ bureau that Brett set up, which represents a number of us who speak widely on financial tech). He has all-encompassing scope and depth, plus insight, plus Australian wit, that make him completely unique.
In our talk, Brett goes to the big truths, the ones people overlook or underestimate. He says these tech changes are coming, whether we’re ready or not, whether we want them or not. He says it just will not work for banks to try to update outmoded products and processes by sticking some new technology on top of them -- that in most cases, it is absolutely necessary to start over from scratch. (In my work on regtech, we call this being “digitally-native.”) He says financial services won’t be about products anymore but instead, like everything in our tech-centered world, will be about the customer’s “experiences.” He talks about the role of voice technology. He talks about how privacy concerns ebb and flow over time, and how we should be thinking of different types of data in different ways. We talk about the urgent need to update the world’s “identity infrastructure” both to enable financial access and to protect ourselves. We talked about how AI will shift the economy’s basic supply and demand curve, and also how it will change labor markets and income inequality. Brett is a pessimist on the latter and advocates for bold public policy overhaul.
Brett has spent a lot of time in China and -- no surprise -- says its financial system is far ahead of the West. He notes that $22 trillion in mobile payments moved through China's ecosystem last year -- more than the aggregate of all the card companies for the entire world. Listeners everywhere need to understand the breathtaking size and speed of the financial transformation in China, which is essentially 100% mobile, and which is expanding in Asia and to other parts of the world. We should not lose sight of the fact that the unprecedented growth of these goliaths, like Ant Financial and Alipay, and Tencent’s WeChat, is happening partly because they did, in fact, start from scratch.
Brett is a storyteller, and the new book reflects it. He shares a narrative that contains a lot I didn’t know about Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba and Ant Financial in China. There’s also a gripping story in the first chapter on the atomic physicist, Wernher von Braun. The book is a page turner, as are Brett’s previous books (see the links below).
Of course, Barefoot Innovation being what it is, we also talked about regulation. Again, we co-wrote the new book’s regulatory chapter, arguing that financial regulation is going to change profoundly, and sharing our views on what shape this must take.
Brett focuses on a barrier I encounter all the time, which is that bankers can see that tech will change their businesses, but they have no idea where to start to try to “transform.” He has concrete advice. He says, just take your top five customer interactions, and try building them again completely from scratch. Design them again, using today’s technology, with absolutely no bias about how you do things now. You will not only create some superior products, but you’ll begin to learn how to innovate, and therefore how to compete in the digital market.
I should mention that Brett is a member of the board of directors of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, which I chair. We are so fortunate to have his wise counsel at CFSI, and I’m happy to be able to share this bonus episode today.
Brett King’s Books:
Barefoot Innovation Podcast - Breakfast with the Best - Brett King
Barefoot Innovation Podcast - Regulation Revolution: The Financial Conduct Authority and Digitally Native Regulatory Design
Barefoot Innovation Podcast - The Future of Regulation: The FCA’s Regtech Leader Nick Cook
Barefoot Innovation Podcast - Try Something New: Lend Academy and Lendit Founder Peter Renton
More about Brett King
Brett King is a futurist, an Amazon bestselling author, an award winning speaker, host of a globally recognized radio show, and CEO of Moven. In his spare time enjoys flying as an IFR pilot, scuba diving, motor racing, and gaming (mostly FPS) and Sci-Fi. He advised the Obama administration on the Future of Banking, and has spoken on the future in 50 countries in the last 3 years.
Brett focuses on how technology is disrupting business, changing behaviour and influencing society. He has fronted TED conferences and given opening keynotes for Wired, Singularity University’s Exponential Finance,The Economist, SIBOS and many more. He appears as a commentator on CNBC and has appeared regularly on the likes of BBC, ABC, FOX, Bloomberg and more.
He is the CEO and Founder of Moven, a $200m mobile bank start-up with the world’s first smart bank account. Moven’s app is used around the globe by over a million people. Brett’s radio show, Breaking Banks, began in May 2013. It was the first global show and podcast on FinTech, and has grown to be the most popular with an audience in 177 countries and 6.5 million listeners.
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We have great episodes coming up. We will talk with MIT’s David Shrier. I’ll have a terrific discussion with the fascinating community bank, NBKC. We’ll have a show with Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury, Craig Phillips, and one with the outgoing Chairman of the CFTC, Chris Giancarlo. We have a fascinating conversation with Gary Shiffman of Giant Oak. And we’ll have an amazing conversation with Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
Some of the places I’ll be this spring include:
Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s 17th Consumer Empowerment & Market Conduct (CEMC) and Digital Financial Services (DFS) Group Meeting in Nassau, Bahamas (invitation only)
LendIt FinTech USA, April 9-10, San Francisco, CA
Santa Fe Group’s 12th Annual Shared Assessments Third Party Risk Summit, April 10-11, Washington, DC
The Innovate Finance Global Summit, April 29-20, London
Bank Director's Bank Audit & Risk Committees Conference, June 12, Chicago, IL
American Banker Association’s Regulatory Compliance Conference, June 9-12, New Orleans, LA
The views and opinions expressed during the Barefoot Innovation podcast series are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Barefoot Innovation Group and its employees. Barefoot Innovation Group does not verify for accuracy the information contained in the podcast series. The primary purpose of this podcast series is to educate and inform.